Los Angeles is in the midst of a crime drop so steep and profound it has experts scratching their heads, says Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks. Crime fell in 2011 for the ninth year in a row. The city had fewer crimes last year — and a million and a half more people — than it did when “Leave It To Beaver” made its debut in 1957. “The numbers are mind-boggling,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells Banks. “You can walk down Main Street in the middle of the day or night. That’s something we haven’t seen in my lifetime.” Main Street is a downtown thoroughfare, once notorious for drugs and crime, now an area of eclectic shops and busy restaurants.
The reasons for the drop are complicated: better policing and more community involvement; fewer drugs and fuller prisons; an explosion in new technology; and the fading profile of violent gangs. The phenomenon ought to be scrutinized, Banks says. We need to know what mix of forces has conspired to drive crime down, so we can — in an era of shrinking resources — plan and spend wisely to keep this going.